We all have a responsibility to make the best choices we can, for ourselves and our families. Most people are trying to do just that, adapting their life as best they can and hesitant to blame anyone but themselves. The trouble is, the old stories about how to get ahead aren’t as true as they once were. Many of us work and study more, and end up with less.
We’re here to tell you that if you’re feeling squeezed, a big part of the problem is about generational circumstances you’ve inherited, NOT about you doing something wrong, or working less hard than your parents, or expecting more. It’s no individual’s fault that full-time work pays younger Canadians thousands less than a generation ago, even though we’re more than twice as likely to have postsecondary and must pay housing prices that are up hundreds of thousands of dollars. These larger circumstances are calling out for us to adapt together, but our governments are failing to adequately heed that call.
Great groups like the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) lobby to protect the more than $33k that governments spend each year per retiree. By contrast, governments spend a fraction of that – less than $12k – per person under 45. That’s why we’re coming together to build Canada’s most overdue lobby, a lobby to work for Canadians in their forties and younger.
If you’re squeezed by incomes that are down thousands of dollars compared to a generation ago, or by housing prices that are up hundreds of thousands; by tuition that is more than double what it used to be, or by child care fees that cost more than university; by the difficulty of finding a good job, or saving for retirement; if you're worried about not having enough time with your kids, or whether you can provide what your parents provided you; or worried you might not be able to afford kids in the first place; if you’re anxious that your financial foundation isn’t that stable, that you might have to move, or can’t afford to live where you grew up; or anxious about mounting public debts being left to you and future generations from climate change and unsustainable economic policy, Gen Squeeze is here to tell you YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
There are millions of Canadians - an entire generation - feeling the same things you're feeling. It's what we've come to call the squeeze, and we're on a mission to overcome it. We’re going to squeeze back, and we want you to join us.
Def: "A group of persons engaged in trying to influence legislators or other public officials in favour of a specific cause."
Canadians have a proud history of adapting together to resolve challenges facing entire generations that we can’t fix alone. That’s where things like our medical and old age security systems come from, which have helped us wrestle down low-income rates for seniors from around 30% in the 1970s to around 5%-7% today -- lower than any other age group in the country. The problem is our governments show much less interest in adapting for younger Canadians than for others. We think a big part of the problem is that after decades of successful and worthwhile lobbying by groups representing retirees - and a large swath of other interests - there still is no group set up in Canada to effectively lobby for those in their forties and younger. We aim to fix that.
We know people are cynical about politics, fed up with scandals in the senate and city hall, and outraged by robocalls that misdirect citizens away from voting booths. We are too. We know many are skeptical that taking an evening to write a letter to our parliamentarian is going to change anything. We’re skeptical too. We know some even feel like eating their ballots when party platforms don’t seem to speak to their needs. We sympathize.
That’s why we need to strategize differently. Corporations organize, by hiring lobbyists to work tirelessly between elections to represent the interests of the company and stakeholders. Our parents and grandparents organize too, by building groups like the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP), to lobby for Canadians age 50+. Guess what? This strategy works for them, which is partly why governments spend $33k+ per retiree each year and less than $12k per person under 45. It’s time we put the same strategy to work for us.
Voting is certainly a big part of it, and we’ll do what we can to get out our vote, but it’s hard to feel inspired about voting when none of the candidates seem to be standing up for you, or come across as distastefully partisan. This is the chicken and egg problem. Political parties design their platforms around who organizes and shows up. If we don’t organize before voting day, then parties won’t prioritize what matters to us in their campaigns, and we’ll have less reason to show up at the ballot box. That’s why the time in between elections is so important, and where our lobby will do some of its best work.
Lobbying only sounds like a bad word because of those who are popularly associated with it, like tobacco or fossil fuel companies, and stories and portrayals of how they get their way. With good controls, with transparency and accountability, lobbying is a natural and, dare we say, potentially noble component of a functioning democracy. That’s why our parents and grandparents have been doing it for decades.
There’s two types of lobbying, and we want to get both of them working for you:
1. “Direct lobbying” - This is the suit up approach. It means directly contacting public office holders and voicing our opinions regarding the policies, regulations, legislation, etc. that govern the lives of millions of squeezed younger Canadians. Even at the end of a long day, when you’re busy and tired, you can count on us to have some of the best experts suiting up for you in government budget lock-ups, meetings at parliament, and talking to decision makers of all political stripes.
2. “Grassroots lobbying” - This is the spread out approach. It means educating and mobilizing each other and our communities so that we all contact our public office holders to voice opinions on the same sort of stuff. Gen Squeeze can help you lobby as effectively as anyone else in the world of politics; can help you join you with thousands of others lobbying at the same time; and can equip you to inspire your friends and neighbours to join forces too. By so doing, we’ll bring to the world of politics the one asset that can out-compete the power of money in a democracy: genuine people power.
We’re doing all we can to raise funding from foundations, we’re developing a member benefits program to create so-called “social enterprise” revenue, and we’re calling upon individual backers to contribute a nickel a day to help get our lobby off the ground.
We're guided by research and evidence, and we're committed to identifying a broad selection of policy options to ease the squeeze. From those, our priorities will largely depend on the enthusiasm of our network for each option, and the political opportunities to see them through. Our first major policy proposal is a New Deal for Families.
Absolutely not. While the media and others have a tendency to seek conflict, we know our parents and grandparents deserve health, comfort and security as they age. That’s why our vision is a Canada that works for all generations.
Inequality is the problem. What we're finding is that inequality now has a serious generational component. And that inequality, overall, could be dramatically reduced with policies that specifically adapt to younger life stages. Additionally, issues of sustainability and resource use have starkly generational consequences. We give you a generational lens, through which to interpret your own situation and that of your friends and family. It’s not the only way to see things, but we know it’s a valuable tool.
Many Canadians 50+ agree, and have joined Gen Squeeze in support of a better deal for their kids and grandchildren. Are you 50-Plus? Click here.
Our collective influence is proportional to the size, diversity and commitment of the network we create. We understand that before we can expect a better generational deal, we have to create equal generational influence. So long as groups like CARP, which lobby for Canadians age 50+, have a goal of 1,000,000 members, we need to match that.
Our goal to have 15,000 supporters by the end of June 2015 is a balance of ambitious but achievable. It's the very first goal of our first-ever supporter drive. If we're able to to meet that target, we'll have demonstrated the ability of our network and our systems to achieve relatively rapid growth.
We need you to formally tell us whether you think building a national lobby for younger Canada is a good idea. That’s the only way we know how much traction we have across Canada, and it's the first step to staying connected and doing more, together.
If you support the idea of a national lobby for younger Canadians, then you have the option of helping us make it a reality. To build it, we need funds. Since part of our founding premise is that people are squeezed for money, we’re making it as easy as we can to become a backer by picking the smallest type of currency - the nickel (the penny’s long gone) - and asking people to chip in a nickel a day. That’s about $18 per year. Click here to learn what we’ll do and what you’ll get for that $18.
First, sign up as a supporter. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll have access to far more information, resources and ways to get involved, including by playing the Lobby Builder game!